Parents reminded to have children's eyes checked
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 19, 2013 06:00 am
Now that the school year has started, optometrists across the province are reminding parents to bring their kindergarten children in for free eye exams.
Eye exams are free of charge for children and teens up to 19, said local optometrist Holly Parker with St. Albert Vision Centre. And children in kindergarten can get a free pair of eyeglasses. The only problem is that many parents don’t bring their kids for an exam, she said.
“The child often doesn’t know when they are five that they are having trouble seeing. They think that’s what everybody sees,” Parker said. “And the parents, they just don’t realize that the child doesn’t see the way they think they do.”
The free pair of glasses is offered through the Eye See … Eye Learn campaign – now running for 10 years through the Alberta Association of Optometrists. Parker said every child should be tested for good eyesight once a year, as sight can change.
Nearly 20,000 five-year-olds in Alberta had the eye exam done last year, and of those tested, 1,783 needed glasses, the association said in a news release. About 14 per cent of all kindergarten-aged children are expected to have some form of vision problem, it said.
That’s nothing unnatural, Parker said, but may affect children’s ability to perform well in school, delay their development, and make learning and concentrating difficult.
“Sometimes it’s a little more obvious or the child may end up saying ‘I have trouble seeing from where I am sitting,’” she said. “But they can also end up with a label as the difficult child. It can make a huge difference for a child’s future to see well.”
She added that some children may only have difficulty seeing properly with one eye. The good eye then makes up for the performance of the bad eye, which can worsen that eye's condition, she said.
The Eye See … I Learn program is offered year-round from the start of kindergarten class and throughout the summer until the beginning of Grade one.
To participate, parents can book an appointment with almost any optometrist across the province, Parker said. She reminds them to bring their health-care cards.
To learn more about the program visit ab.doctorsofoptometry.ca.